A Functional {Intentional} Wardrobe

In previous posts, I make references to a functional wardrobe but I never really stated what I mean. I think it’s time to change that.

I consider my wardrobe to be functional when it works well for me – my life demands, my personal style and even my body shape. A real test of this kind of functionality is time-pressure. If I can put together an outfit I love, early in the morning, with minimal fuss, then my wardrobe is working for me.

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My functional wardrobe is one that has been put together over time, and {mostly} with purpose. This intentional, slow-paced approach gives me an opportunity to explore my style in a way that is adaptable and can evolve with me. It has also helped me curb impulse-buying, minimize clutter and waste in my life, and think more creatively about my outfit options.

From my experience, I wouldn’t say that a functional wardrobe has to be built from scratch or that the first step towards creating functionality is to get rid of everything you don’t love or need.

You need time to learn about your style and needs. As you take your time, you’ll find that slowly, the garments that you really need but are probably of lower quality, are replaced with better quality ones (which last longer and need replacement less often).

As for the stuff that really has no place in your life, you either find a new home for it, or simply don’t replace it at all when it reaches the end of its (generally short) life.

In time, you’ll find that your wardrobe no longer overflows with unwanted possessions and, instead, reaches an optimal size that is a more honest reflection of your clothing needs.

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In my definition, a functional wardrobe really is an intentional wardrobe, as I don’t think you can achieve a high level of functionality without intention. functional wardrobe is put together in a mindful way.

There is some effort in putting time aside to think honestly about lifestyle demands, personal style and whether a purchase fits a real purpose.

But, if you ask me, effortless outfit options, greater opportunities to create and express your own style, and a more positive impact of your style choices, are worth this on-going, long-term process. If for nothing else, for the feeling of confidence you get when you step outside wearing something you love.


What do you think, is an intentional wardrobe something worth pursuing? If you’ve tried something like this yourself, what do you think have been the biggest benefits and challenges? 


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The Mindless Consumer

I can get really excited about things. If I see something I really like my mind goes like “oh, I Want It! I Want It! I Want It!”. This urge to own stuff makes me anxious and is one of the reasons why I started the journey to become a mindful consumer. But the anecdote I am about to share in this post really goes to show that being a mindful consumer is the journey, not the end of the story.

Last Sunday morning, I was spending some quality time on Polyvore, styling the new Popbasic collection*, when I noticed that all of the outfits that I put together were Winter-focused.

Despite the glorious Summer outside, it made me think about my Winter wardrobe – starting with coats. I proceeded to spend a substantial amount of time looking at the coat collections from some of my go-to places (Mango, Zara, Massimo Dutti) and some new finds (like the one below found at ALAND).

After a while I realised two things:

  1. oversized coats are still in, particularly in ovoid shapes (when you don’t follow trends closely, spotting trends is a really surprising game);
  2. I would like the one in this board, thank you very much. And while we’re on it, those ankle boots too, s’il vous plait.
Winter Coat

After over an hour looking at coats from various European (and Korean) places, wishing I had more options in New Zealand, I started to seriously plot ways to purchase the coat I wanted. When it got to the point where a shopping trip to Europe started to sound like a reasonable thing to do, that’s when it hit me – I was having a serious attack of mindless consumerism.

Time to pull out that guide on how to curb my enthusiasm and snap myself back to a more reasonable ground.

Looking at the guide, I can see I won’t get past the first hurdle. While one of my coats does need replacement, I definitely do not need it now. In fact, thinking about it, it is a coat for a much cooler weather and from my experience of the last 2 Winters in Auckland, I didn’t really need it that often. It is possible that I can make it through next Winter without it.

Time to get my brain to accept the reality: no trip to Europe and no ovoid oversized coat for now.

On the plus side, catching myself being mindless does motivate me to think a bit further about my real wardrobe needs.

I will leave that to a later post, but tell me, what are some of your current wardrobe desires? And how do you deal with that “Must. Buy. Now” feeling?

* Please note this is a referral link. I decided to use it on this post as a way of supporting a small business and a young entrepreneur that I admire. I trust my readers are able to make their own consumer decisions. For more information on Pobasic’s referral program see here. You can also read my disclosure policy here

Transitional Pieces

Spring is around the corner for us down-under but there’s still a chill in the air. These two pieces are currently in the top of my transitional pieces’ list. I’ve come across the monk shoes through my hubby’s shoe research and have really taken to them. Apparently, they’re somewhere between an oxford and a derby when it comes to formality. Oh, the things that are there to learn about men’s shoes! I had no idea but am glad they’re making those for women too. 

Transitional Pieces - Wishlist

Don’t get me wrong – just because these are for the transitional seasons, I by no means wish them to be short-lived. By picking pieces that have a certain classical element to them and are of good quality, I make sure they will be wearable in many transitional seasons ahead.

Yeah, when it comes to my wardrobe, I think that far ahead. The thing is, when you shop strategically and about once or twice a year, you find yourself having to do a stock take of your current wardrobe with two or three seasons ahead in mind.

My next opportunity to shop is coming up fast. Knowing that, after my September trip, I probably won’t be going to Europe until next year, is forcing me to consider not just the upcoming Summer but also the Autumn and Winter after that. Will I really need a pair of boots during the kiwi Summer? Not really. But I know I will need a pair in 10 months’ time so now is the time for me to think about it. 

Did you ever think of your wardrobe management in that way? What are your current transitional season crushes? 

Curbing My Enthusiasm – A Guide to Buying Fewer Things

Part of the challenge to be a mindful consumer is to buy fewer things. This is no small challenge as I’m sure you all know how difficult it is to resist impulses to buy, no matter what your budget is. 

Mild Autumn

For instance, I have been wanting a pair of Josefinas for a really long time. I finally decided which colour to pick and I can afford them so I’m now ready to click that purchase button. 

But I haven’t yet because, in my own attempts to manage impulses to buy, I have found helpful to ask myself a few questions first:

1. Am I buying with purpose?

– Do I need it?

– Do I need it now? 

To answer these questions, I consider whether the new item will be replacing something on its way out. If the answer is no, I don’t buy it. No, it’s not easy to make this decision but you have to be ruthless otherwise it defeats the purpose. 

If the answer is yes, I move on to the next set of questions.

2. Am I buying a versatile* item? 

– How will the item work with other items in my wardrobe?

– How many outfits can I create mixing this new item with what I already have?

Versatile items offer many restyling possibilities. If I am highly motivated to buy an item, asking these questions forces me to be mindful about my wardrobe and think creatively about my styling options.

Doing this before I even have the item saves me time and money. This is true even if the answers are yes – if we can mix and match the items in our wardrobes, we’ll be less likely to need to buy something new in the future.

*By versatile I mean adaptable to my own wardrobe, not just pieces that would fit everyone’s wardrobe.

3. Am I buying quality?

Of course, all that I mention above means very little if the item is of poor quality. No matter how much I needed it or how well it fit in my wardrobe, it won’t last. Soon enough, I’m forced to buy a new item.

Asking this question forces me to pay more attention to the composition of an item, learn more about the durability of different materials and how to look after them.

This is something I am still learning to do. It’s not easy for me to pay attention to quality when I’ve already ticked off the other two criteria. But mistakes have been made and I am starting to understand that this is an essential part of the process to become a more mindful consumer. 

What about price, you may ask?

Let’s assume first that we’re talking about an item within our own personal budgets. Price should not come into the conversation until those 3 sets of questions are answered. I have learned this the hard way.

I often make the mistake that I am sure many of you can relate. I see something I need, it fits perfectly with my style, it’s cheap – I buy it. Did I think of quality? Not until a couple of months later when it looks so worn out it’s as if I wore it every day for the past 10 years – true story.

More often than not, a cheaper price-tag does not represent the best economic option. We think we’re saving money but if we consider price-per-wear, we realise that a €12 shirt that only lasts 2 months ends up costing more than a £30 shirt that still looks great after 3 years. 

Stripes and Florals

Back to the beautiful Goa JosefinasI can apply all of the above to help me come to a decision.

Josefinas are versatile (check) and of extremely good quality (check). Now, do I need them? I do have a couple of pairs of shoes on their way out but they’re Spring/Summer – as are the Josefinas.

Winter is coming and I know that if I buy them now, I won’t get to wear them until September. So, Josefinas, I’m sorry to say, I don’t need you right now. 

It’s not easy to be a mindful consumer, particularly when it comes to saying no to yourself. Going through the process of asking those questions forces me to think before I buy and keep those impulses in check. 

How do you curb your consumer enthusiasm? 

Thanks for reading!
xo Rita